WHY U.S. SPORTS LEAGUES ARE OPPOSING NEW JERSEY SPORTS BETTING
06th January, 2013 at 01:23:34
Unlike almost everything else they're involved with, the leagues won't get a cut of the action.
The on-going litigation between USA major sports leagues and the state of New Jersey, which wants to overturn the PASPA and run its own sports betting facilities, caught the eye of respected Associated Press sports columnist Tim Dahlberg over the weekend, prompting him to write a scathing overview of the dispute, which goes to court again on February 14 (see previous reports).
Dahlberg observes that American football fans love to gamble and always have. In Nevada, one of only four states where sports betting is legally allowed by PASPA, millions of dollars change hands every NFL weekend.
But, he points out; this discriminatory situation has resulted in illegal bookies operating throughout the USA and from offshore in order to meet a clearly nation-wide demand.
That means that the millions in wagers become billions.
Despite this de facto situation, the integrity of the National Football League remains intact, Dahlberg notes.
"There's not a whiff of scandal, not a reason to suspect anything might be amiss," he comments, adding:
"That's what makes the reaction of America's biggest sports leagues to attempts to legalize sports betting in New Jersey so laughable.
"From the NFL to the NBA, they're united against efforts by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to sidestep a federal ban and allow wagering on games. The NCAA has joined the fight in a federal court in Newark, and baseball Commissioner Bud Selig seems to take it as a personal affront."
Dahlberg goes on to opine that the leagues' thought process remains rooted in the past.
"They see gambling on their games as a threat cooked up in a back room somewhere by shady criminals just waiting for the chance to blackmail a troubled quarterback and fix the outcome of games.
"Somehow, though, London - which has at least one betting parlor on every major street - managed to hold an entire Olympics without any problems, while offering bets on everything from Usain Bolt winning the 100 to Michael Phelps getting seven golds.
"The NFL, meanwhile, hosts a game in London every year and hasn't complained yet about fans being able to bet their favorite on their way to the stadium.
"There's nothing more immoral about it than betting on the stock market. Nothing more criminal than cashing in on your fantasy league's pot of cash."
Whether it's legal or not, Americans want to lay sports bets, and any attempt to fix a game will inevitably be picked up by the experienced and legal bookies that track every dollar on every game and know before anyone else if something untoward is going on, the columnist writes.
Dahlberg quotes Joe Asher, head of US operations for UK bookie giant William Hill
plc, who said:
"It defies common sense that somehow the leagues are better off and the world is a better place where hundreds of billions are being wagered illegally.
"The idea that it is of benefit to a league when their fans are wagering with criminals rather than having a system where sports betting is regulated and run by honorable people who have undergone thorough investigation is ridiculous."
The NFL in particular has benefited from legal sports betting, with the betting line always a prominent part of any discussion leading up to a big game. It's part of the fabric of big-time sports, Dahlberg argues.
If the New Jersey initiative is successful, punters will have more convenience and accessibility, and legal sports book operators would surely profit, as would New Jersey in the taxes it collects on the bets.
"About the only ones who won't make money are the leagues themselves, at least not directly. Unlike almost everything else they're involved with, they won't get a cut of the action, Dahlberg concludes.
"That means millions - and potentially billions - of dollars going into someone else's pockets.
"And maybe that's the real reason why they protest so loud."
Related News Tags: New Jersey, USA, William Hill